Books·Magic 8 Q&A

Why bestselling thriller writer K.A. Tucker only reads the good reviews

The Canadian author, whose latest is called Keep Her Safe, answers eight questions from eight writers.
Canadian author K.A. Tucker is a bestselling writer whose books include Keep Her Safe, Until It Fades and He Will Be My Ruin. (Courtesy of Simon & Schuster)

K.A. Tucker brings an unlikely pair of heroes together in her latest novel, Keep Her Safe. Noah Marshall, whose mother is a beloved police chief, teams up with Gracie Richards, the daughter of a corrupt cop, to investigate the whisperings of a scandal within the force.

Tucker is a bestselling author of thrillers and romance novels. Below, she answers eight questions from eight of her fellow writers in the CBC Books Magic 8 Q&A.

1. Gail Bowen asks, "If you could live in the world created by another writer, what fictional world would you choose and why?"

Erilea (from Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series), but only as Fae. They have the best magical powers.

2. Rajiv Surendra asks, "Is there a book that you wish you had never read? Explain. Please. Thanks."

All books help open your mind, even the ones that leave you feeling ill for humanity by the last page. I have no regrets. 

3. Michael DeForge asks, "How often do you feel jealousy toward other writers? Do you feel guilty about it?"

Every once in a while, I'll pick up an author's work that makes me feel entirely inadequate as a writer. I'll flip through the pages and marvel at the author's words, while simultaneously convincing myself that I will never measure up with this talent. I don't feel guilty about this. It's the highest compliment I could pay another writer.

4. Chevy Stevens asks, "Do you ever read your reviews? Do you learn anything from them?"

I will read reviews around book release time, just to get a sense of how the book is being received. But I only read the four and five stars. I committed to my story — to the characters, the plot, the tone, the ending — when it went into production. Listening too much to critics once you've passed that point can lead to crippling self-doubt, and that's an unproductive place for any writer to be. Plus, I usually have a sense of what some readers might take issue with by the time I've finished writing, so reading critical reviews simply to confirm it seems a little like self-flagellation to me. 

5. Shyam Selvadurai asks, "Do you think the portrayal of certain character types are beyond you? Can you name a character in a novel, whose personality/point of view/ character traits, etc., you know you could never write?"

Starr Carter (from The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas). There isn't enough research or conversation out there for me to adequately portray the challenges that a person of colour faces in their everyday life as a result of racial discrimination.

6. Peggy Blair asks, "If your book became a movie, which actor would play your lead and why?"

I have an awful time dream-casting the main characters in my books, but I will say that while writing Keep Her Safe, I kept picturing Leonardo DiCaprio playing special agent Kristian Klein. Klein is a formidable presence, even though he does not get a lot of page time, and DiCaprio, who commands attention every time he steps on screen, would fill his shoes effortlessly.

7. Catherine Hernandez asks, "Have you ever been traumatized by what you've written?"

Not as of yet, and I have put myself — through my characters — into all kinds of horrible situations in the name of fiction. I think the only storyline that would cause me serious personal trauma would be one about losing a child. Even the thought of imagining myself in that parent's nightmare stirs my stomach.

8. Louise Penny asks, "What do you know now that you wish you'd know when writing your first book?"

That I would want to use my full name instead of initials. I get asked why I went with initials — am I protecting my privacy? Do I feel I'll have more success in the suspense market with initials? I'm a terrible liar, and I'm always slightly embarrassed to admit that my initials just looked better on the cover.